1 killed in Albuquerque after heavy rain sends raging water into arroyo system

Arroyos are usually dry but can quickly fill with rushing water when it rains. A Flood Watch is in effect for parts of New Mexico through Monday.

ALBUQUERQUE – One person was killed, and two others were rescued over the weekend in Albuquerque after heavy rain sent water rushing into the arroyo system.

Albuquerque Fire Rescue (AFR) crews responded to a call about two people being swept away at a diversion channel around 3 p.m. Sunday. According to the department, a unit responded to the arroyo system that includes Snow Heights, Morningside, Menaul, Montgomery, Osuna, and Alameda at the channel. Around the same time, another call came in about a third victim stuck at the top of a barricade at Wyoming Boulevard. 

Firefighters and Albuquerque police rescued one person at the first arroyo location, and they remain in stable condition. The second person was found and pronounced dead, according to AFR. 


Firefighters used a harness and belay system to rescue the third person at the Wyoming Boulevard location.

"It is extremely important for our community to understand the dangers of the arroyo system and ditches located throughout the city. Although what may appear as a small storm far away from one location in the city these arroyos will quickly fill and sweep anyone in them with fast moving water. These arroyos are designed to safely divert water away from the city and no one should access or occupy them," AFR said. 

Flash Flood Warnings were in effect on Sunday when the rescue and drowning took place. Between 2 and 4 inches of rain was forecast during the flooding. 

Video captured by FOX Weather Storm Chaser Corey Gerken on Sunday showed roads in southeast New Mexico inundated with flooding.

According to the New Mexico Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources, arroyos, which is Spanish for streams, are typically dry but can experience flash flooding when it rains as water passes from higher elevations down into the arroyos. 

"Even if it’s not raining at your location. Upstream storms can bring torrents of water downstream in a matter of minutes," the National Weather Service in Albuquerque said. 

A Flood Watch continues Monday afternoon in north-central and northeast New Mexico. Slow-moving thunderstorms are forecast to produce heavy rainfall of up to 3 inches in isolated areas.